International observers, as well as some authorities in Malaysia, are expressing outrage after video surfaced of young schoolgirls being made to wade across a muddy, snake-filled pit while male instructors doused them with water, the Straits Times is reporting.
In the video, which you can see below, about 10 girls are seen attempting to wade through a muddy pit and then climb out via a steep wall on the other side. At one point in the video, a snake is thrown into the pit while the girls scream in terror. Those who attempt to get out of the pit are squirted with water by men standing out of frame, and they are told to “get in and dive.”
One particular girl can be seen jumping up and down, while her face shows an expression of unbridled terror.
The girls are wearing long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and hijabs on their heads. They are all soaked waist-down from the muddy water. The incident is believed to have taken place in Kuala Kangsar, in the Malaysian state of Perak.
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It’s unclear, as of this writing, what kind of snake was thrown into the muddy pit with the girls, although Perak civil defense department director Mohd Noor Hassan Ashaari Sulaiman says that the reptile was “non-poisonous.” However, he doesn’t accept that as an excuse.
“This incident cannot be taken lightly.”
Reports conflict as to exactly what sort of training was taking place in the video. The Straits Times says that the exercise was part of a “character-building” program, which is itself a part of a “motivational camp” program put on by the Malaysian Civil Defense Department. The Daily Mail, on the other hand, indicates that the snake pit was some form of punishment within the context of a larger program aimed at teaching jungle survival.
Malaysian jungle training is generally aimed at adults, says the Daily Mail. For those serving in the military, it’s vital, and even soldiers from the United States have been known to enroll in such programs for their own knowledge. Students learn to find food and water sources, for example, and how to avoid poisonous plants.
Regardless of whether the girls were thrown into the pit for punishment, jungle training, or character-building, one thing remains clear: The Malaysian Civil Defense Department is distancing itself from the episode. Perak authorities say the program has been suspended pending an investigation.
Malaysian Civil Defense Force deputy director-general of operations Selamat Dahalan apologized for the incident.
“We regret that this has happened. This is an individual act and not sanctioned by the department. In fact, it is against our standard operating procedure to have such training for primary-school children.”
Dahalan promised to speak to the parents of the girls to apologize personally for the trauma the kids experienced.
“We hope that they can accept our apologies and explanation on the incident.”
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National Parent-Teachers Association chairman Mohamad Ali Hassan wants to see the instructors responsible for the incident to be held accountable for their actions.
“The government should ban this kind of training. Suspend the training centre and put the trainers involved on blacklist. The trainers should be sent for rehabilitation, themselves. It is a live snake. Not a toy snake. What were they thinking?”
Furthermore, psychiatrist Andrew Mohanraj says there’s no evidence that scaring children half to death “toughens them up.”
“For some participants who are more vulnerable, it can create unnecessary phobia that can have long-term implications.”
[Featured Image by reptiles4all/Shutterstock]